Bring Trans in the US Military

Trans people, as some people may know, were not included in DADT and so are also not free to serve now that it has been revoked. Trans people usually can’t serve because in order to get treatment for transsexualism, trans people often have to be diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, which is a mental health issue, and which disables someone from serving.

Basically, Klinger was right, except everyone knew he wasn’t a real crossdresser; he just didn’t want to be in the war. Most crossdressers who serve do so while deep in the closet, just as many gay and lesbian service members did in the past. Even crossdressing is still grounds for discharge.

DADT – Trans = Better, Not Best

I’m glad DADT has gone the way of history (and somewhat amazed such an idiotic policy had such a long tenure), but the fact of it is trans people are not covered by the repeal of DADT: crossdressing and cross-gender presentation is still considered mental illness and grounds for discharge in the US military.

JAC Stringer has explained in a post over at Trans Group Blog:

What bothers me more than the issues within the military is the greater “LGB” community’s reaction, or lack their of, to the exclusion of trans* communities. I’m so glad today is here so I won’t be invited to another “Yay DADT! All Our Problems are Over!” facebook event; after months of it I’m fed up. Yes, we should be celebrating, but its downright lousy to rub it in trans people’s faces saying “we don’t have to worry anymore” and “problem solved.” If you’re going to go that far you might as well just call today what it is, yet another “We Forgot You, Again” day, or “We Matter More” day. And yes, I do have to remind people that our problems are not over. I’m not a downer, I’m an activist. I’m not bitter, I’m fucking furious. The LGB community knows what it’s like to be ignored, passed over, discriminated against, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of taking their rights and privileges for granted. The LGB community makes strides with the help of the trans* community, the trans* community is booted out, and what should be our joy becomes a part of our pain. But in of every disappointment there is room for action. It holds me together when people do speak out and recognize that we are not done yet. We must continue to work, continue to fight, and never be satisfied until we all are equal.

I’ve heard today described as “the light at the end of the tunnel.” If this is your truth, I celebrate joyously for you. And as you reach that light at the end of the tunnel, I hope you remember that some of us have been left behind and we are still working in the dark.

So if you find our trans friends a little less celebratory than you might expect, it’s not even the incremental change that’s getting us down – it’s that so many others in the LGB don’t even seem to know a huge chunk of people are still, as JAC puts it, “working in the dark.”

Sad About the Repeal?

For a different perspective on the repeal of DADT, young trans activist Danielle Askini writes that she’s sad about it:

The last bastion that forced SOME poor queer youth to avoid the military has been pealed away; we too can now be exploited and brain washed by the American military machine. The fact that queers have fought so hard to be part of such an evil institution is beyond me. I feel no joy. Only sorrow for the queers who will die needlessly on the American killing fields for Capitalist profits.

…which is an opinion I share, to some degree, even if I’m also pleased to see the repeal happen.

That said, crossdressing & trans identities are still on the list of mental health disorders for the military, so if you want to avoid a draft that might come along, there you go.

There’s also an article from Vanity Fair about how DADT could provide the platform for ENDA.

Trans Vets Applaud DADT Passage

From TAVA, the Transgender American Veterans’ Association:

We are proud of our democracy that Congress passed this monumental repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Even though transgender people are still going to be separated from military service, Transgender American Veterans Association salutes this passage. We who have served our nation proudly now anticipate our own progress to freedom and equality.

Monica Helms, President of TAVA said, “For 17 years the US has made their gay lesbian and bisexual service members second class citizens and caused them to have to lie about who they are and who they love. No longer will that be the case. We now turn our attention to allowing transgender people to serve openly.”

“It should be recognized that DADT has never included directives concerning Transgender people serving in the military.” Angela Brightfeather, TAVA’s Vice President stated, “Therefore, there was no call from Transgender Americans to equally serve in the military of their country, without persecution and discrimination. However, Transgender people who have and still do serve under the same pre-DADT conditions, still find it necessary to lie and hide who they are, contrary to the best traditions of the military. We now press our GLB brothers and sisters to finish the job and help provide the means for Transgender people to be able to serve their country openly and equally as do all Americans.”

Many of America’s allied nations have long since allowed open transgender service along with the service of those with alternate sexual orientation. The next frontier is for the United States is to progress to full and complete inclusion of the right to serve our nation. It is TAVA’s expectation that now that DADT has been repealed that all those involved in achieving the repeal will now turn their attention to help transgender Americans also be able serve openly.

NCTE on DADT & Trans Service

I’ve put the critical info in bold:

(Washington, DC: November 30, 2010) The Pentagon today released results of a nine-month-long study that concluded that the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy could be repealed with little impact on the military’s preparedness. The authors noted that many of the objections to service by openly gay men and lesbians were based on stereotypes, not facts, and that the majority of members of the armed forces had already knowingly served with lesbians and gay men without adverse effect.

Within the report’s Frequently Asked Questions section, the Department of Defense reiterated that a change in DADT would not permit transgender servicemembers to serve openly. Transgender people are currently considered medically disqualified for service and can face other roadblocks if they come out while serving. These policies have to change to allow transgender people to serve openly. Several allies of the United States have already repealed similar policies in their own armed forces.

NCTE applauds the Department of Defense for recognizing the unfounded basis for discrimination against lesbian and gay servicemembers. We call on the military to also take action to repeal the policies which bar transgender servicemembers from enlisting or serving openly. Like the policies that currently limit service based on sexual orientation, the bans on service by transgender people are also based on stereotypes and a lack of accurate information. It is also important that the report recognizes that the creation of separate bathroom and sleeping facilities only exacerbates the problems of discrimination, by stigmatizing certain troops.

Continue reading “NCTE on DADT & Trans Service”

Let Them Serve Openly

Democrats, grow a pair already & get this done. These men and women want to fight for their country, and no one should bar a citizen from being able to do that. Gays and lesbians have always served: it’s up to us, as citizens, to recognize their service and the diverse life experiences it comes with. Doing anything else is – I’m gonna say it – unpatriotic.

The dog tags also remind him of a fraternity roommate at the University of West Virginia. The young officer, who had recently married, was killed in Korea.

Phillips was a graduate student studying theater when he heard the news. His student status made him exempt from the draft, but, he said, “I thought I should do something.” He enlisted in the Army over the objections of his father back home in Elkins, W.Va. Having known since he was 17 that he was gay, the 22-year-old lied on the enlistment form, just as gays and lesbians still do today.

. . .

The young =sergeant shared sandbag bunkers, tents and Quonset huts with other soldiers, but the lack of privacy “was not a problem.” He kept a photo of a “girlfriend” from college on his footlocker so no one would get suspicious. “I acted all my life,” he said of his pretense at being straight.

Only once did Phillips confide his secret, telling his company commander. “He reached over and took my hand and said, ‘It’s OK, buddy, this is between you and I.” It was a tremendous relief. He was straight, but he was understanding — there were people back then who were.”

. . .

When Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators earlier this year that the military’s policy on gays “forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Phillips could relate.

He recalled how when he came down with malaria in Korea, it was a black sergeant who carried him to a Jeep and took him to the hospital. The Korean War marked the first time black troops served alongside whites. For years, opponents of desegregation had argued that blacks would ruin morale and unit cohesion, a line of reasoning often heard now in the debate over gays in the military.

“If somebody’s protecting your back,” whether they are black or gay, Phillips learned in Korea, “who cares?”

More of Garrison Phillips’ story can be found here.

Breaking: Judge Orders No DADT Enforcement


A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the U.S. military to stop enforcing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, effectively ending the ban on openly gay troops.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips’ permanent worldwide injunction — praised by gay rights organizations — orders the military “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation, or other proceeding, that may have been commenced” under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

The judge, a Clinton appointee based in the Central District of California, previously ruled that the policy regarding gays serving in the military violated service members’ Fifth Amendment rights to due process and freedom of speech, but had delayed issuing the injunction.

The military was sued by Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group.

LCRs, I promise never to make fun of you again.